Neuropsychological functions of nonverbal hand movements and gestures during sports

Niklas Neumann*, Viktor Drewes, Ippokratis Konstantinidis, Katharina Reinecke, Hedda Lausberg, Ingo Helmich*

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Emotional body-distant gestures are a prominent feature of winning athletes. Because negative emotions have been associated to increased self-touch behaviour, we investigated the hypothesis that athletes change from a more body-distant nonverbal hand movement behaviour when winning to a body-focused behaviour when losing. Nonverbal hand movements of professional right-handed tennis athletes were videotaped during competition and analyzed by certified raters using the NEUROpsychological GESture(NEUROGES)System. The results showed that losing athletes increase their irregular, on body, and phasic on body hand movements, particularly with the left hand. Emotion / attitude rise gestures with the right hand characterised winning athletes. The data suggest that the nonverbal hand movements of athletes serve different neuropsychological functions. Winners nonverbally express their positive feelings by body-distant gestures but change towards their own body to regulate stress when losing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)362-374
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of cognitive psychology
    Issue number3
    Early online date2-Nov-2021
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


    • Nonverbal behaviour
    • hemispherical specialisation
    • self-regulation
    • emotion expression
    • gestures
    • tennis
    • sports
    • emotions

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